Yankees-Royals Betting Preview: Why CC Sabathia’s Knee Has Inflated the Total

Yankees-Royals Betting Preview: Why CC Sabathia’s Knee Has Inflated the Total article feature image

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: CC Sabathia

Betting Odds: Royals vs. Yankees

  • Royals: +255 (Brad Keller)
  • Yankees: -280 (CC Sabathia)
  • Total: 9.5
  • First pitch: 7:05 p.m. ET

>> All odds as of 11 a.m. ET. Download The Action Network App to get real-time MLB odds and track your bets.

When evaluating the Royals-Yankees game, I was reminded that college football will be here quite soon. You see, there’s a magazine I get every year with previews of all the teams, and when a team is going to be particularly bad, the author tries to sugarcoat it. He’ll say something like “all four of their starting linebackers are gone, but the coaches are really high on John Smith because he’s got a great vertical!!” as if someone jumping high really balances out the loss of a whole starting unit.

I bring this up because I saw this one-sentence evaluation of Sabathia recently: “Sabathia received a lubricant injection in his right knee to help with arthritis during the All-Star break, but he should be good to go.” Sure, he may be a heavyset 38-year-old starter with a bad knee trying to pitch, but he’s good to go, everyone! And he’s got a great vertical!

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The funny thing is, I think that news, and Sabathia’s recent performance, are creating an inflated total in this spot, and I’m actually going against it. Yes, Sabathia is grinding it out through a long season on a broken-down body with limited stuff. Yes, he had just five swinging strikes in 92 pitches his last time out.

But here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter if the other team can’t hit lefties, and the Yankees have eight dominant bullpen pitchers rested and ready to take over if he struggles. You get four competent innings from Sabathia, and you’re good here.

Meanwhile, with Jorge Soler still injured, Kansas City is projected to start at least three to four guys who bat about .200 or worse against lefties this season (and it’s not like their offense sets the world on fire in any split). If you’re banking on the Royals to get four or five runs here, those are lofty aspirations.

Keller has, in limited reps, been possibly the Royals’ most consistent starting pitcher all season. On the other side, Aaron Judge was one of the Yankees’ most competent bats against right-handed pitchers, and he is now out for a few weeks after fracturing his right wrist on Thursday.

Not only will that make pitching to the lineup a little easier in general, but the drop from Judge to Aaron Hicks, or the other options the Yankees can put in the middle of their lineup, is pretty massive.

There’s a ripple effect there, and I think it makes an offensive outburst less likely. With temperatures looking like they’re going to be hovering in the mid-70’s most of the game (with a little rain), the weather factors don’t make run scoring any more likely. I’ll roll the dice that Sabathia’s knee can stay intact long enough, and Keller can be competent enough, to keep the scoring in this game at a reasonable level.

The Bet: Under 9.5

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